The Legislature’s Joint Finance Committee has approved changes to a state budget proposal that would allow Wisconsin to sell buildings and land it owns.
The provision is designed to help the state sell facilities with costly upkeep costs or land that’s no longer needed, such as property acquired for road projects that was not used. Democrats worry the plan could have broader implications though, possibly allowing the state to sell student dorms, prisons, and even the state Capitol building.
State Rep. Jon Richards worries the proposal could result in the “wholesale sale of state properties, without even requiring a competitive bid.” Fellow Democrats on the panel echoed those concerns, arguing that even requiring legislative review of a proposed sale could have donors thinking twice before helping to fund new buildings on campuses across the state.
Majority Republicans on Tuesday adopted an amendment to give the finance committee oversight on sales. It also prohibits the sale of property where at least half the funding came from a grant or gift.
JFC co-chair Alberta Darling (R-River Hills) says the changes will give lawmakers more control over what gets sold and rebuffed claims from Democrats that the bill could result in the sale of key state buildings. Darling said, “Let’s get real, there’s not a chance that the DOA would put up for our consideration the sale of the Capitol.”
The changes will be considered by the full Legislature when it takes up the budget next month. Even if approved by lawmakers though, the legislative oversight could still be vetoed by the governor.